Construction has officially begun on the South Fraser Perimeter Road, a $1-billion project to link industrial facilities with local highways, Prime Minster Stephen Harper announced in Surrey yesterday.

The new 40-kilometre, four-lane road, which is part of B.C.’s Gateway Program, will connect port facilities, rail yards and industrial areas to highways 1, 91 and 99, improving transportation and reducing congestion.

“The (project) is a concrete example of how (the provincial and federal) government is working together to take the steps needed to protect Canada’s economy and strengthen its foundations for the future,” said Harper.

Premier Gordon Campbell said the project will create around 7,000 new jobs by 2021, and build B.C.’s economic competitiveness by “streamlining the movement of goods and people.”

Three bid teams — Fraser Transportation Group, South River Connector and the Riverway Partnership — have been shortlisted for the job of staging, designing, building, financing and maintaining the road.

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